New housing board changes programme

In October 2011, police arrested former deputy chair of the Cayman Islands National Housing Development Trust Edlin Myles. In June 2012, Myles was charged with multiple criminal offences related to deception. 

Myles and former trust board chair Edward S. McLaughlin resigned from the board in 2011. 

In August 2012, Myles pled not guilty in the Cayman Islands Grand Court to the charges, which include three counts of obtaining property by deception, that is – obtaining a sum of money by representing that insurance obtained through him was required to get a house under the trust scheme. There are four charges of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, the alleged advantage being an opportunity to earn commission on the policy. A further two charges allege an attempt to obtain property or pecuniary advantage by deception.  

The charges generally refer to time periods beginning in January 2011. Myles’ trial is scheduled for 22 April. 

 

New board  

Following Myles’ arrest, the trust’s board of directors was reformed with some new appointees and some returning members. 

Rayal Bodden – a member of the board who had previously resigned – was appointed as chairman. Other members named included Allan Bush, Michael Godfrey, Ann-Marie Powell, Jaron Jackson, Terry-Ann Arch and Delia Hydes.  

In October 2012, Mr. Bodden and trust general manager Julio Ramos announced that the board had decided to take the trust’s affordable home programme in a new direction, involving renting instead of buying, and possibly multi-family developments instead of standalone houses. 

For the foreseeable future, the board is abandoning the trust’s previous goal of selling affordable houses to low-income Caymanians, after determining that it is simply not feasible to build decent houses and sell them for less than $100,000, said Mr. Bodden, who is now a United Democratic Party candidate in George Town. 

Instead, the trust is making its houses available for five-year leases, similar to initiatives in Florida and Bermuda.  

In addition to cost concerns, Mr. Bodden cited the overwhelming demand for a relatively few number of available units as a reason for changing to a lease programme. More than 700 Caymanian families were on the trust’s list of people who say they need homes, some of whom have been on the list since 2004. 

The rent for two-bedroom houses is $700 per month and the rent for three-bedroom houses is $800 per month. About one-third of the houses have two bedrooms and two-thirds have three bedrooms.  

 

Trust homes  

The trust has built or is in the process of building 94 houses on sites in East End, Bodden Town, George Town and West Bay. Mr. Ramos said there is room for about 95 more houses on the East End, Bodden Town and West Bay sites. The new houses in George Town and West Bay replace substandard houses that were razed or slated for demolition.  

In addition to the four sites with new houses, the trust has a site on Eastern Avenue in George Town, where seven houses remain of an original 33, as well as a second West Bay site with 20 older houses, where residents were being moved into alternate housing. 

About 30 families who previously had housing ownership agreements with the trust have grandfather status and will be able to continue under lease-to-own arrangements. Those families will still be able to purchase their two-bedroom houses for $56,900 and three-bedroom houses for $69,900 – even though the new houses are of much higher quality and cost more to build.  

Budget documents indicate that Cabinet was to give the trust $665,000 during this year for operations. The trust will bring in about $759,000 in revenue from other sources. The trust believes that if it can build up a housing stock of about 200 units, it can bring in enough recurring revenue so that Cabinet will not have to provide annual funding.  

 

Plans  

While the trust intends to keep building single-family houses on the four other sites in use, the Eastern Avenue site may be targeted for multi-family dwellings, such as town homes. The reasoning is multi-family dwellings will be less expensive to build and can accommodate more people.  

In June 2012, officials broke ground on the first phase of the Bodden Town affordable housing project, consisting of 20 homes. The site can accommodate about 40 houses in all. 

In February, officials kicked off the second phase of the Bodden Town development, located off Lake Destiny Drive past the Bodden Town police station. 

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